Thursday, October 31st, 2013

New GSA Recommendation for Green Building Programs Adds Green Globes 2010 System, Excludes LEEDv4 System

After a review that it describes as open to “an extensive public process,” the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has recommended to the Department of Energy (DOE) two tools that GSA says allow it to measure how federal buildings can best save energy, improve overall performance and cut down utility costs.

The two systems GSA now recommends are the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes 2010 and the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) 2009. Notably, GSA did not recommend other green building rating systems that were on its short list, in particular USGBC’s LEEDv4 program.

Trade associations including SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, American Chemistry Council, Vinyl Institute, Resilient Floor Covering Institute and other have advocated long and hard that GSA consider rating systems other than USGBC’s LEED program, and there has been serious concern about the newest iteration, LEED v4, which is expected to be rolled out at the Greenbuild expo and conference on November 20, 2013.

William R. Carteaux, president & CEO of SPI, said, “The plastics industry has had concerns about U.S. Green Building Council LEEDv4 program standards because they lack scientific backing and are based more on a desire to avoid certain construction materials than on meeting important building performance goals. The LEEDv4 emphasis on earning points for materials avoidance showed a lack of concern for the benefits of plastics material.

“Unfortunately, the USGBC developed its LEEDv4 standard without involving industry or employing a consensus-based approach. SPI is a member of the USGBC and despite expressing our concerns, our comments were never acknowledged.“

I can see three principal reasons why the supporters of science-based regulation prevailed in this case. First, science-based positions are derived from proven facts. You might think that would be enough to close the case, but it frequently takes considerable effort to persuade people to consider the facts when they conflict with one’s beliefs or prejudices.

The second reason the GSA was able to reach its decision to add the Green Globes program and not add LEEDv4 is that the trade associations mentioned above advocated long and hard, presenting and supporting scientific facts.

And the third reason is that the GSA took the time and made the effort to conduct “an extensive public process” that enabled all sides to present their positions. As a result, the GSA was able to make a decision based on science and facts.

Carteaux acknowledged GSA’s decision, stating, “On behalf of SPI and its member companies, I want to applaud the U.S. General Services Administration for this recommendation to the U.S. Department of Energy. SPI is a proponent of green buildings and the materials our members manufacture are essential to meeting this goal. Along with our allied organizations in the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition, SPI supports the common objective of improving energy efficiency and environmental performance in buildings.”

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